Looking for a new home can be really exciting; however, it can be challenging. I find that it’s even tougher for millennials, such as myself, who can’t afford a broker’s services. In my recent experience without the assistance of a professional, I had to juggle work on weekdays and house hunting on the weekends. It escalated fast from excitement to exhaustion.
On the Existing Sites
One of the biggest problems I found in these property listing sites are the limited search options. You can only search by area or city. If you’re wondering why this should be a problem, it’s because of Manila’s terrible traffic. For me, travel time is one of the top things I have to consider when looking for a place.
For this project, I decided to redesign Hoppler — hoppler.com.ph, one of the few property listing sites in the Philippines.
I conducted an interview with 10 of my friends to hear their thoughts about the current state of our property listing sites and house hunting in general. They had to fit the characteristics of someone around my age, a young professional, a millennial, someone who lives in Manila but is originally from the province, and someone who’s only renting a place among many criteria. During the interview, I also conducted usability tests on the current site of Hoppler. From the data I gathered, I was able to come up with my persona which will help me explore deeper into each step a user might take, predict their pain points, and gather insights on functionality and user behaviour.
- Addition of Search Options
Since travel time is one of the biggest factors in deciding a place, one of the solutions I came up with is adding an option to search by travel time. By adding this capability, it’ll give users listing results that are within the set travel time by the users themselves. It will also give them the directions to the property from an indicated place of origin. An example is seen below using Isabelle’s, our persona’s, perspective.
2. Standardized Information
The issue of trustworthiness is one of the pain points cited by most of the users. And there are several causes to it; repetitive listings, irrelevant photos, lack of information and so on. With these, it has caused distrust from the users. There have been instances where the photos uploaded didn’t match the actual property — leaving the users disappointed and frustrated. It only adds more stress to an already stressful task of house hunting. Standardization of information fixes this issue. Hoppler will have to enforce a strict requirement from the sellers to upload good quality, relevant photos, substantial information on the neighborhood, and information about the sellers/landowners themselves. I also thought adding seller log-in activities, noting if they’re online or when they last logged-in, will make the users even more at ease.
3. Ability to Search Nearby Properties and Travel Routes
The ability to search nearby establishments and travel routes is a big help in the selection process especially since most of the users are millennials who enjoy going out. During the usability testing stage, it proved to be a delightful experience for the users citing how useful it can be and how big it’ll impact when deciding which place to get.
4. Favorites Option
The ability to shortlist properties is also implemented. It provides a quick view of all the properties the user took interest in. From the list, one can also share it via email, messenger, or any other messaging app to a friend. It comes useful to those who want to rent a place together. They can also set appointments to visit the property.
With the MVP I was able to come up with, I conducted usability tests to gather ideas on how to make it better. I built a prototype in InVision, created specific tasks, and had it tested among the same set of interviewees from the start of the project.
Click here to view the project `Hoppler Prototype`
This prototype brought to you by InVisionApp
Thoughts on the Project
I know that a lot of people do rely on the internet to do house hunting. It’s unfortunate, however, that these property listing sites have been regarded with wariness over the years. I also know that people aren’t really afraid to try them but they’re left disappointed and frustrated every time. If only these listing sites had more awareness of their users’ needs, people will surely use it more often — just as how most of them have been using booking apps like Airbnb.
About the Author
Rona Balarias is a Graphic Designer who has taken on the challenge to teach herself User Experience Design. She’s someone who believes that design can impact human lives in a positive and relevant way. Think of Don Norman and how he was able to save us tons of frustrations when he put a flat plate on a door to solve the problem of bad doors — why didn’t anyone ever think of that? It’s mind-boggling how it seemed obvious and yet. She wants to be able to do that. Project Hoppler is one of the first tasks she undertook donning the UX designer hat. 🎩✨